In Keighley, Maxted & Co v Durant (1901), A was authorized by P to buy wheat at 44s 3d a quarter on a joint account for A and P. Wheat was unobtainable at this price and, therefore, A agreed to buy from T at 44s 6d a quarter. Though he intended to buy it on behalf of himself and P, A contracted in his own name and did not disclose the agency to T. The next day P ratified the purchase at the unauthorized price but, in due course, P and A failed to take delivery. It was held by the House of Lords that P was not bound by any contract with T. It is unclear what the position would be if A said he was acting as an agent but did not disclose his principal. Where, however, the agent has purported to act for a principal while, in fact, intending to contract on his own behalf, ratification is still possible.
Keighley Maxted & Co. v. Durant
By Vivek Kumar Verma / January 19, 2012 / Agency, Contract Law  AC 240
K & Co authorized Roberts, a corn merchant, to buy wheat on a joint account for himself and them at a certain price. Roberts, on his own behalf and without authority of anybody else, bought wheat at a higher price than the authorized one, from Durant. The intention that he was acting for K& Co. as well as himself was not disclosed by Roberts to Durant. K & Co, however, later agreed with Roberts to buy the wheat at that (high) price but eventually failed to do so. Durant resold it at a loss and sued them for loss. Durant – Plaintiff at court of 1st instance
Roberts – appellant in Court of appeal, respondent in House of Lords. K & Co – appellant in House of Lords.
Whether a contract made by a man purporting and professing to act on his own behalf alone, and not on behalf of a principal, but having an undisclosed intention to give the benefit of the contract to a third party, can be ratified by that third party, so as to render him able to sue or liable to be sued on the contract. Judgement
Day J. and a special jury (...
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